Every Picture Tells A Story

By Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist, Northeast Region
May 1, 2013

The left half of this fairway was treated with a snow mold fungicide last fall. Leaving an untreated check like this can graphically illustrate the value of various maintenance programs.

A superintendent’s fall fungicide trial pulls no punches!

John Scott, golf course superintendent at Summerlea Golf and Country Club in Vaudrevil-Dorion, Quebec, initiated a most interesting trial on the golf course this fall. John left a portion of a fairway untreated to demonstrate to his members and himself the value of the fall fungicide program to manage snow mold diseases. Snow mold pressure in the Quebec region is high, with snow cover often persisting over 100 days. John has been taking pictures weekly as the area recovers and will also be monitoring the turf’s performance through the season to see if there are any longer term effects. The trial will be repeated this fall over the same location to gain even better understanding of the long term impacts of fungicide management for snow mold at Summerlea Golf and CC.

Winter Woes

The warmer weather we have experienced in the past week has been very much welcomed, especially to the north where growth is just beginning to take place. Golf courses in most areas of New England survived the winter in good condition, but not all. Courses in Central Maine, Northern New York and in portions of Quebec experienced cold temperature injury on annual bluegrass. The damage is not as widespread as it often is. Isolated weather events and specific site conditions (soil type and drainage) seemed to be the cause behind the injury. Courses in Quebec experienced a short period of thaw in January that created a thick layer of ice and frozen snow that remained in place for over 130 days. Turf managers in those areas are reporting annual bluegrass damage from anoxia. Even greens that are normally protected by covering systems experienced damage from the prolonged snow and ice layer above the cover. Other managers who did not experience the prolonged ice and snow cover felt that damage to their annual bluegrass occurred later in winter as the snow melt began and the greens were exposed to freezing nighttime temperatures. Damage patterns at one such course I observed this week seemed to support that scenario. Fortunately, the annual bluegrass in that situation was also showing some signs of recovery with the mild weather we are experiencing.

Managing annual bluegrass through winter in more northern climates continues to be the greatest challenge that most turf managers will face. We do our best to create conditions that maximize the turf’s ability to tolerate the cold temperatures, spend a good deal of money to install cover systems and even make attempts when possible to remove snow or ice when it seems necessary to do so. The variables that dictate cold temperature injury are many and certainly not fully understood. All northern turf managers working with annual bluegrass will at one time or another experience cold temperature injury that is usually out of their control. Their management skills should not be rated so much on whether the damage occurred or not, but instead on their ability to deal with the recovery process. In any case, those dealing with winter injury on their golf courses will have a long spring and summer season ahead. And as always, the golfer’s patience with the recovery period is very much appreciated.

We would also like to remind all TAS subscribers that the deadline is approaching for the discounted TAS fees. To receive the $500 discount, payment must be received by May 15, 2013.

Source: Jim Skorulski (jskorulski@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

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